Contact: Janine Kava, Press Office
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services/Crime Victims Board
(518) 457-8906 or (518) 275-5508 – cell
janine.kava@dcjs.ny.gov
For immediate release: Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Note: Beginning today (April 9, 2009), Crime Victims Board staff members have relocated, along with the Family Assistance Center, to the Broome County Health Department, 225 Front St., Binghamton. CVB staff will be at that location through at least Monday, April 13. For more information, call 1-866-361-9056 or 1-800-247-8035.

State’s Crime Victims Board mobilizes to assist victims of Binghamton shooting
Board provides on-site assistance, works with federal government to establish toll-free number to streamline access to information

Victim assistance experts with the New York State Crime Victims Board are on site in Binghamton to provide information, determine eligibility and handle claims for anyone seeking assistance in the aftermath of Friday’s deadly shooting.

The board may be able to provide emergency awards of up to $2,500 for victims and their family members, as well as provide payment of medical and funeral expenses, compensation for lost wages and reimbursement of essential personal property damaged or destroyed as a result of the incident. An overview of the benefits the board can provide is available at www.ovs.ny.gov.

“The Crime Victims Board’s key mission is very clear – to provide compensation to innocent victims of crime in a timely, efficient and compassionate manner,” said Tina M. Stanford, chairwoman of the board. “It is my hope that we can reach anyone who needs our help, and that the assistance we provide can bring a measure of comfort during this extremely difficult time, and will allow those affected by this terrible tragedy to begin the healing process.”

Staff members are available between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. today at the Family Assistance Center that has been established at the Holiday Inn; they arrived yesterday and will be in Binghamton through at least Friday. The board is working in partnership with the Crime Victims Assistance Center in Binghamton and A New Hope Center in Owego to provide assistance and support.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Justice, working in partnership with the Crime Victims Board, has established a toll-free number as a single source of information for anyone seeking assistance.

The toll-free number – 1-866-361-9056 – is available 24 hours-a-day and staffed by operators who have access to translation support. By calling the number, individuals will have direct access to information about:

  • Eligibility and benefits available through the state Crime Victims Board (www.ovs.ny.gov);
  • Crisis intervention services and the crisis hotline operated by the Crime Victims Assistance Center in Binghamton (www.cvac.us); and

A separate number – 1-916-962-6285 – also has been established for individuals calling from overseas who are seeking assistance. Both telephone numbers will be operational for at least the next two weeks, according to Office for Victims of Crime, which is part of the Office of Justice Programs at the Justice Department.

In addition, the Office for Victims of Crime, through the FBI, will support the travel expenses for family members of the Binghamton shooting victims to attend funeral services. Yesterday, representatives from the FBI, State Department and OVC finalized plans that will allow the FBI to pay domestic and international travel and lodging expenses for the immediate family members of the victims. The State Department is assisting to ensure the VISA application process is handled expeditiously.

“I would like express my heartfelt thanks to the federal government for the assistance they have provided to the Crime Victims Board so that we can streamline access to important information and services,” Chairwoman Stanford said. “I also would like to commend all of our partners in Binghamton – particularly the Crime Victims Assistance Center and A New Hope Center – for their tremendous work in the face of extremely difficult circumstances.”

The New York State Crime Victims Board provided more than $27 million to crime victims and their families – including payment of medical and funeral expenses, compensation for lost wages and reimbursement for essential personal property such as eyeglasses – during the 2007-08 fiscal year. It also provided another $29 million to nearly 200 victims’ assistance programs throughout New York State, including the Crime Victims Assistance Center and A New Hope Center.

Funding for compensation to crime victims, as well as grant money to support victims’ assistance programs, comes from the state and federal government, generated by fines, mandatory surcharges, and crime victim assistance fees that certain offenders pay after conviction in either state or federal court. For example, an individual convicted of a felony in New York State must pay a $300 mandatory surcharge and a $25 crime victim assistance fee.     

Established in 1966, the board is governed by five members, all of whom are appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the state Senate. Board members are appointed for seven-year terms.